My family

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What is a "typical" child?

As the mother of a nine year old with ADHD and a 3 year old with Autism I now realize that I have no idea what it's like to have a "typical" child.  While I sit here and watch Lyla grow and reach her milestones, I have no idea if she's "normal".

Amy seemed fine to me, she was a happy baby and reached all of her milestones either early or as the "typical" development chart dictated.  She was busy yes but aren't all babies busy getting into everything?   There were times when I'd call mom and beg her to tell me when this stage would be over and to name the date so I'd be better prepared.  Isn't that "normal" though?  At what age did it change from "normal" or "typical" to ADHD?  I remember going to her Dr. when she was in Kindergarten and asking for her to be seen by a Pediatrician and that I thought she may have ADHD.  The Dr. just shook her head and said "oh it's just busy girl syndrome".  I waited for the her Grade 1 teacher to tell me that she should see the doctor but the teacher never did.  She'd just complain about her behaviour in class and say that she was a very bright girl and very smart she just had a hard time focusing and would often wander both physically, down the halls, or mentally as her gaze turned blank.  After many talks with the teacher and Principal it was finally me who suggested that she may have ADHD and asked the teacher and principal what they thought.  They immediately said yes, that's a good idea and eagerly filled out the forms I was finally able to obtain from my Dr. to get her assessed.  All I could think was, well if you thought this half a year ago why didn't you tell me then because the Dr. wouldn't listen to just my opinion.  A whole year was wasted and now she's behind in school.

When I had Ian he seemed fine.  He was a wonderful, happy baby too and again went on to meet all of his "typical" milestones.  He was smiling and laughing and just a joy to watch.  It had been 5 years since I had a baby when I had him so I was a little out of practice plus I really thought Amy was so far ahead at her age that if he were lacking in some areas it was just because he was a boy and boys take longer sometimes.  When the Public Health Nurse asked me during one of his vaccinations and assessments if I wanted him to see a speech therapist I said "No, my brother didn't talk until he was two so I'm not worried".  It was only when we noticed that he stopped responding to his name and any type of noise that we started to wonder if something was wrong.  We thought he was deaf and had his hearing checked out.  When his hearing test came back as being normal and they suggested getting his speech assessed, then I started to wonder and do some investigating, but it was only after I had become pregnant with Lyla that I started to suspect Autism.

Now I have Lyla and she's beautiful.  I don't regret having her but I worry about her and wonder will she be "normal" or "typical".  Would I even be able to recognize what it is if I saw it?  Watching her now I realize what I missed with Ian, she is much more advanced at 17 months than Ian was.  I see her reaching up for me to pick her up, Ian didn't do that.  I see her bring me a toy to show me and passing it back and forth, Ian didn't do that.  I hear her mimicking almost every sound she hears, again Ian didn't do that.  But now with her growing personality, she reminds me of Amy at this age and that scares me.

Right now I'm starting to wonder if Amy has Aspergers Syndrome and am hoping to get her assessed this summer.  Luckily, Lyla is enrolled into a study of younger siblings of Autistic children so her development is being monitored very closely and will be until she's 5 years old or older.  So at least if something shows up, we can react to it much quicker.  The Dr. that's head of the study in this region told me that she's very interested in studying girls because they often get missed from a diagnosis of Autism because they can be very high functioning.  After I explained to the Dr., during Lyla's last assessment, of how Amy behaves, she was interested in seeing her as well.  Even though I'm grateful for this opportunity, it's disheartening to think that this Dr. thinks there might be something more going on then ADHD.

It breaks my heart to hear on the news that they've finally confirmed that Autism is genetic.  It just makes me worry so much for Lyla because she is my last baby and I want so much for her to be "normal".  It also makes me wonder if I had known about Ian's condition before I got pregnant, if I would've even thought of having another child.  But now I can't imagine my life without my Lyla and I'll accept her the way she is or whatever way she grows up to be, just like I've had to with my other children.  It's not easy being the mother of these children but again, is it easy to be the mother of "typical" children?  Obviously, I don't have a clue!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Amy's birth story

When I was 22 I felt it was time for a baby. My ex had gotten out of the military to pursue a career with computers which at the time was a very promising opportunity. We moved back to PEI for him to go to school and I was working for the family business. Because of my diabetes I wanted to have children while I was young because I felt the older I got, the more likely complications would arise and lower my chances of having a healthy pregnancy.

Within two months I was pregnant. I didn't tell my Dr. I was planning it, I didn't think I needed to and at the time I was on multiple injections of insulin to control my blood sugars. It was a pretty easy pregnancy at first, I was only sick in the mornings before I ate anything, then once I threw up it was over for the day. One night when I was 29 weeks pregnant (I think) I started having irregular contractions. I went to the hospital with my mother, sister and ex and they figured I was in preterm labour, but it was still pretty weak. They gave me medication to mature the baby's lungs and stop the contractions. Then they sent me over to Halifax at what was then known as the Grace Hospital for Women. Then started the barrage of specialists, an OB/GYN who specialized in high risk pregnancies which included diabetic mothers, an endocrinologist, a diabetic nurse, the dietitian and a physical therapist. They did stop the labour but now were working on treating my diabetes and getting it under better control.

When you're pregnant your body requires more insulin because the pregnancy produces a resistance to your insulin. This is why a normal mom could get diabetes while pregnant but for me it meant, checking my blood sugars up to 8 times a day and increasing my insulin to about 3 times what I would normally take prior to being pregnant, I'd probably give myself 5 needles in the run of a day. So I continued tracking my blood sugars, keeping in touch with Halifax and visiting every 3 weeks for check ups with all of the above specialists. Every time I went I had ultrasounds where they checked the baby's size and condition to make sure she was thriving and she was. I wasn't doing too well with the sugars, it was very difficult to control. The baby kept measuring in the 80th percentile for size. Finally at 36 weeks I started having pains again, we went in the hospital, here on PEI, and was there the full day. I was in pain, the nurses kept saying I wasn't in real labour....sure felt like it! So finally I asked for pain meds and the labour stopped but I had progressed to 2 Cm's and 80 percent effaced so my Dr. was concerned I'd go into labour again here on the island,
and they had no anesthetist working that weekend, and sent me to Halifax to see if I could deliver over there. When I got to Halifax, they couldn't just hook me up to the juice to get the labour going, they had to check to make sure the baby's lungs were mature first. Babies of diabetics can have larger than normal babies because the sugar in the mothers blood could spill over to the baby causing them to get fat. Even though we have bigger than normal babies that look very healthy, the lung maturity usually comes later if under poor control. So I had and amniocentesis where they take the amniotic fluid and test it for a bunch of things but this was for lung maturity. It didn't hurt! Anyway later that afternoon I got the word that her lungs were mature and I could be induced on Friday.

January 19th they started me on an Oxytocin drip at around 8am then continuously monitored me.  I was hooked up to the fetal monitor the whole time and I had to check my blood sugar every hour.  My insulin was being delivered in an insulin/glucose mix so they had to make sure that the levels were appropriate.  My mother, sister and then husband were there with me.  I remember my mothers face.  She never wanted me to have children because she was afraid of the complications my diabetes would have on me and it showed on every inch of her face that day.  I laboured through the day, mom and my sister went shopping for a little while after I got an epidural, love that epidural man!  Finally, in the evening it came time to push.  I couldn't feel the contractions so the nurse had to tell me when to push.  I must have pushed for about an hour and it wasn't really going anywhere so finally I started to panic because I could feel all this pressure and any way I moved really hurt.  The nurse was concerned enough to go get the Dr. to check me again.  The Dr. gave me the option of trying with a forceps delivery or having a c-section.  I looked at my mother and sister, my sister said forceps, my mother said c-section and I was worried over a little scar so I went with the forceps.  Then I had to choose who to bring with me into the OR, I reluctantly chose my ex.  They bring me into the OR
and they turn up my epidural so that I feel absolutely nothing, at least that pressure was gone.  They lay me down on the flat table and put my legs up in stirrups.  I watch them put my legs up and not feeling a thing or having any control over them.  Now the delivery room is full and I get self conscious.  I have an OB/GYN plus her Resident down there, my delivery nurse to my left, the anesthesiologist above me talking to me and two more OR nurses to my right then a team from the NICU of 3 or 4 over in the corner waiting and of course my ex was there somewhere too.  So finally they tell me to push, I see my nurse feeling my stomach for contractions I push and can't feel a thing and ask am I doing it right?  The mood is light and every one's excited to get this birth over with.  The Dr. and the resident navigate the forceps around the baby's head and the nurse keeps telling me when to push, they keep saying it's coming, it's coming to keep me motivated.  Finally they head is delivered but oops, her shoulder is stuck.  You know some thing's not right when everybody completely ignores the Mom and all available hand of the nurses around me and even the anesthesiologists arms are reaching over my head to push on my stomach to get the baby out.  I shout, should I keep pushing and they're ignoring me.  Finally, the doctors free her shoulders and the rest of her body is delivered.  No noise, she's passed directly over to the NICU team who begin to work on her.  I ask why she's not crying, a nurse says she has a heartbeat so she'll be fine.  Finally, after what seemed like forever I hear her cry and a tear streams down my face, Thank God!

I found out later that her shoulder was stuck for 5 minutes and when born she had an APGAR score of 1......0 is dead!  After I found out from mom and Tracy who were anxiously waiting in the waiting room that my delivery nurse came up to them after and told them we almost lost her.......almost!  Her birth weight was 9lbs 5oz and 19 inches long, 3 weeks early!  She was whisked away from me and spent the next few days in the NICU, they hurt her shoulder trying to pull her out and she would cry when she moved it but luckily it wasn't broken.  She had swallowed a bunch of amniotic fluid on the way out and had a spot of pneumonia on her lung.  She was very weak and had to stay in the NICU for about a week hooked up to all kinds of monitors and IV antibiotics.  I tried to nurse her but she wouldn't latch so I pumped breast milk for her.  She started to thrive and we were finally able to go home with her.  I was left with a huge episiotomy which made it impossible to sit up straight for 5 weeks, oh it was painful!

Amy's middle name is Grace for two reasons, she was born at the Grace hospital and the good Grace of God spared her.  I can't believe that was almost 9 and a half years ago, she's growing up much too fast.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Entitled to Eat

Right now I'm the heaviest I've ever been without being pregnant.  I've never really had a big problem with my weight before now but it's finally getting to me.  I know I'm eating through emotions, half the time I'm not really hungry but I still pile the sugar in my mouth.  I'm a carboholic, love everything carbs.  Bread, cookies, cakes, chips, etc and hardly eat any fruits or vegetables.

I know why I'm eating too.  I eat because I feel entitled to it.  It's the only thing in my life that I can truly give to myself because I don't do anything else for myself.  I get up, get the kids ready for the day, and go to work then come home, eat supper,  chase the kids around and try to get them into bed.  By the time I get them into bed I just breathe a huge sigh of relief and have a couple of hours to myself which I choose to park my butt in front of the TV and eat.

Why don't you take the kids for a walk you might ask, well the evenings around here are filled with mosquitoes and I hate the idea of putting pesticides on my children every evening.  Why don't you go get a home gym or a bike you might ask, well if you've read my previous blogs, you'd see that my Ian is a climber and her would eventually hurt himself or break whatever I get.

I know, excuses, excuses!  I just don't know what to do or how to change my eating habits.  I know what I should eat, being a diabetic most of my life we do get lectured by the dietitians on what and how to eat.  I could probably be a dietitian myself, I count carbs to figure out how much insulin to give myself so it's not from lack of knowledge.

So this is it for now, I've just got to try to cut out the evening snacking and try to eat better foods.  Easier said than done!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back to reality!

While I was away with my girls I enjoyed every moment.  It was so nice to just have two children and myself to worry about.  You don't realize just how busy your life is until you've had a chance to get away from it for awhile then come back to it.

I didn't want to come back!  My stomach was tied in knots the day before I left, I just didn't want the simplicity of the vacation to end.  We were not on any sort of schedule, all of us slept in till after nine in the morning and Lyla actually was the one that stayed in bed the longest.  We'd putter around in the mornings, get our breakfast, get dressed and get the girls ready for the day then Lyla would usually need a nap so we'd wait until she was awake before we'd go anywhere.  Each of us only had one drawer of clothes so there wasn't a mountain of laundry piled in front of the washer like there always is in my house.  Mom ended up doing most of it anyways so I got a real nice break from that.

I even finally had a day alone with Amy.  I hardly ever get to do anything just with her.  I took her shopping and we went to a movie, after that I let her play some games in the arcade, we had a ball.  For a couple of the days we didn't even go anywhere and I was perfectly content to do absolutely nothing, except of course feed and clothe the children.

For a couple of days after I got back on PEI, I was depressed and moody.  I came back and saw just how crazy our house is.  Ian goes non stop when he's awake.  We have locks on the tops of all the doors to keep him in the house so he doesn't escape without us noticing.  He climbs every surface in our house including the windows and the stove.  Aside from that, Maggie the puppy, is just crazy!  We can't have her in the house with the kids at all because she still nips at the kids and tries to chew on anything she can get at.  She drives me absolutely nuts!  Then I look around at my house and see how much work needs to be done.  There are dents and scratches in the walls and doors and I know there's no point in fixing them right now until Ian gets out of his hyper destructive phase, if he ever does!  I have no nick knacks around because they'd all be broken and hardly have anything on the walls for fear they'd be smashed.  Plus there's clutter everywhere, I'm not a good housekeeper at all and I just feel like I need to get a dump truck and just dump everything in it without looking at it. 

I know I'm blessed.  I know I have things other people don't have and that I'm lucky that I'm not dealing with really sick children and watching them suffer.  I know all of that.  It's just really hard to see the good things in life some days.  I just pray for strength, I always have.

On the other hand, when I picked up Ian from daycare yesterday, he said "Hello Mama" without being prompted!  Finally pairing words, that made mama happy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wonderful Newfoundland Vacation!

I had hoped to continue on with my last blog everyday while I was vacationing in Newfoundland but of course the Internet wasn't cooperating while we were there and when it was working either mom or Amy was on the computer or I was busy doing something else.

So Anyways, I've now learned that driving across Newfoundland with a 16 month old is not a good idea and I doubt I'll be doing it ever again!  The lovely nursery rhyme CD that we played for Lyla on the first part of our trip had mysteriously went missing, much like mom's ferry tickets, plus Lyla kept throwing her soother around in the car and we couldn't find it.  We had to make frequent stops so that Lyla could get out of her car seat and have a little crawl around.  At this point, germs on dirty floors in restaurants and gas stations were the last things on my mind since she needed her freedom to roam and was expressing it frequently in the car.

Finally we arrived at our destination at around 7 or 8pm to the house mom and dad bought just a couple of months ago.  It's a lovely house but smaller than I'm used to and I can't believe the prices of the houses!

My home has changed so much since I moved away when I was 18 years old.  Now there are houses in what used to be my favourite play or hang out spots.  MY rock that's on the beach in front of my former house, the one I always would sit on to watch the sunset is now covered with a pile of rocks serving as a break wall that blocks off the whole beach that we used to be able to walk on right up to the point where a river meets and ocean.  I brought Amy down my old road and showed her where I grew up and these places I used to play in and I was sad that they weren't there anymore.....Oh the memories!

Aside from the physical changes, all of my close friends are gone.  I didn't visit one friend and I've just lost touch with the ones who are still there.  It really didn't bother me though, I was very happy to see a lot of my family and my parents friends who I've known practically all my life.

Newfoundland is such a unique place.  Where else would you be called "my lover", "my darling", "my sweetheart", by the waitress or the convenience store clerk?  Just interacting with my fellow Newfies again was such a heartwarming experience, I've forgotten what it was like to really be on "Da Rock".

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Road Trip!

On Monday Amy, Lyla, my mom, and I started on the long trek from Prince Edward Island to Newfoundland.  We had about a 5 hour drive, which included a ferry from PEI to North Sydney, where we caught the night crossing of the ferry.

It wasn't too bad the first day, we caught the ferry from PEI to Nova Scotia first which was nice because Lyla was able to get around a bit before our long drive.  Our drive along the way was filled with Nursery Rhymes blaring from the stereo system and me and mom trying to shush Amy to be quiet so Lyla would take a nap.  Finally, we were at North Sydney early and was able to get supper, then spent a couple of hours on the loading dock while waiting to board.  Upstairs in a waiting area there was nobody around so we pitched camp there for the time being.  It was filled with vacant chairs and a tv playing Wheel of Fortune, a huge room and luckily it was all bared off and safe for Lyla to crawl around.  She was pretty cute there trying to push her stroller around in the waiting area.  Since nobody was around I was able to change her and dress her in her night clothes.

Finally we went to board the new ferry, mom had the tickets in her hand a few moments earlier and we were looking at the number of our cabin.  A lady stops us to scan our tickets and mom searches her pockets, can't find em.  She looks in her purse, in the glove box, the floor, everywhere and they're not there.  The lady finally had to pull us over to the side so the other cars could get by and mom finally had to admit to defeat and go back into the terminal to get her tickets replaced.  Luckily, it was no trouble and we got on the ferry no problem.  Once we get settled in our cabin, which are tiny compared to the older ferries, we notice that Lyla didn't have her soother.  Any mother knows that when your child is addicted to a soother, breaking them of it while travelling is not going to help your already frayed nerves.  So me and Amy go back down to the car to get the soother.  I drop it off to mom and she says she'll stay in the cabin with Lyla and try to cuddle her to sleep.  Me and Amy go off to check out the new boat, Amy was so excited.  So we found a little snack shop on the boat that was selling hot dogs and chips and we sit down to eat.  A few minutes later my cell phone rings.  Mom's calling from the cabin and says that Lyla's soother is missing and she's searched the entire room.

Mom was changing Lyla on the bed and baby had the soother in her hand playing with it.  Mom ripped her bed apart looking for it, got down and looked under the bunks and even went back to make sure Lyla didn't poke it into her diaper, she often tries to rip the diaper out from underneath her while we're changing her.  So I did all of the same things with no luck.  Finally we cease the search and lay down to try to get to sleep then mom starts searching her bra for the soother thinking maybe Lyla poked it down there because she picks at everything.  Then a lightbulb went off in my head and I snatched Lyla up off the floor and start patting her down, low and behold there's the sookie in the leg of her sleepers.  Thank the Lord!  The soother didn't make much of a difference though, we were still up half the night with her.  She bunked with me on a small cabin bunk and kept taking up half of the bed, oh my!

Other then that, the ferry ride was very smooth and we were very impressed.  I was so glad to get off the boat though, then we had the long 10 hour drive across Newfoundland but right now I have to go to bed!

To be continued....